I have never been satisfied with the current theory of Light. I feel there is still a bit of “magic” or “the gods” clinging to Light, in the sense that we are still perplexed by the apparent duality of its behavior– that is, its seeming ability to behave both as particle and as wave– and not just any wave, mind you –not like an ocean or sound wave– but as a fantastical “transverse” wave travelling, if unimpeded, forever without losing power and without benefit of a medium.
Elsewhere I have railed against the orthodox view that Light travels through infinity without ever losing power, so today “all” I want to explore is the idea that scientists are also quite wrong to consider Light as an actual wave.
When Mach, in his book on Optics, quotes Newton’s description of Sunlight, we find that Newton actually does not use the term “wave.” Instead, he speaks of what he has seen… that Light travels with an “interval between two successive similar states.” Yes, in Light, Newton observed periodicity… but not necessarily physical “waves.” The idea that Newton is speaking exclusively of wave-behavior has been back-read into Newton’s words. We can almost not help ourselves but to interpret his words that way, bringing to our reading our own preconceived viewpoint that Light travels in actual waves.
When Mach describes Huygens’ observations and interpretations of Light, we find– if we look with fresh, unbiased eyes– that Huygens is, like Newton, not necessarily talking about waves.
Mach writes that Huygens thought of Light as “an irregular succession of isolated pulses whose effects only become noticeable when several of the weak, individual impulses coming from different centers add up or unite to form a stronger wave,” and that “the spreading-out occurs simultaneously on all sides spherically.”
We see here that, though Huygens does indeed describe what is basically a wave front, he is NOT imagining that Light begins emanating in wave form. Indeed, for Huygens, Light is emitted in discrete pulses which only LATER shoulder-up to each other and form a front. Clearly, Huygens, like Newton, is NOT presenting Light as necessarily manifesting itself in the form of a wave.
Mach, himself, notes that “the periodicity of a single ray is in any case, unobservable, for it only becomes evident when two rays meet.”
Young had noticed that colored Light could be made to produce beams which would destroy or neutralize each other. Young concluded that rays of Light must be projected in a regular intervals of alternately opposite states, and that the positive component of one beam can be made to collide with the negative component of another beam, thereby canceling-out each other. However, the cancelling-out of opposites does not require the presence of actual waves of Light.
Where did the idea of Light “waves” originate? Well, it just so happens that the periodicity of Light– that ANY periodicity– can be represented geometrically as waves. Therefore, it is not surprising that someone would suggest a wave-pattern to describe the periodicity of Light. Envisioning Light as a moving wave allowed scientists to give Light some sort of easily representable physicality. Something similar occurred a few centuries later when physicists attempted to describe atoms as tiny solar systems.
As Mach explains “the periodic properties of a ray of light are REPRESENTABLE [my stress] geometrically only by distances drawn perpendicular to its direction” [the peaks and troughs of waves].
Thus, for reasons of representational simplicity, Fresnel and others bestowed upon us the standard characterization of Light as a travelling wave. In this view, Light possesses, obviously, a horizontal or forward moving component, but also is assigned– artificially in my view– a vertical component. This also allows Light to be represented continuously– as opposed to the discontinuity implied by a photon or pulse model.
Mach, himself, admits that evidences of the periodicity of Light “do not offer any direct conclusion as the NATURE of the periodicity or the vibration-form,” but… “the sine-form [classic waves] recommends itself on account of its simplicity.”
Mach believes that we can easily dismiss the idea that Light could arrive in discrete parcels. But he is wrong to jump to this conclusion for a couple of reasons…
First off, he assumes that discreteness implies corporeality. It does not. Photons can be viewed as little bundles of Energy, completely matterless. Additionally…what’s wrong with a little corporeality?
Secondly, Mach believes that if we assume discontinuity in Light, then the periodic nature of Light’s arrival would necessitate the additional assumption of TWO materials– each of “opposite qualities” (call them positive and negative) which would alternate in the travelling ray. “Both these materials must be given the power of exciting the retina when either is in excess, and the power must disappear when both are present in equal quantities.”
However, in reality we do NOT have to assume the presence of both positive and negative corpuscles. We can, rather, imagine opposite states composed of “present” and “not present”– as in, photon present and photon not present … basically, a nice Nature-created binary system of Energy-pulses serving as the basis of all Life.
Furthermore, there is absolutely no reason to assume that, if there were a negative component to Light that it would necessarily be picked-up by the human visual apparatus… as there’s also no reason to assume that equal quantities of this negative and positive Light-stuff arriving at the eye in equal quantities would produce a net-zero effect.
THEN WHAT *IS* LIGHT?
As Mach writes, “it is well-known that there is essentially no difference between heat rays and light rays.” A ray of Light is merely a particular kind of Heat Radiation.
To define it a bit more, Light is Heat Radiation possessing properties which cause it to stimulate the human visual apparatus. As far as I know, the only property which matters when it comes to stimulating the human visual apparatus is the frequency of pulses coming into contact with the eye.
Because it was observed that Light is emitted during the process of combustion, Huygens concluded hundreds of years ago that when we are concerned with the Origin Of Radiation, we are concerned with a motion. Mach informs us that Young and Fresnel came to the conclusion that, in Mach’s words, “Light depended on mechanical vibrations and that these were like those of the pendulum.”
This brings up the notion of “polarization,” the notion that some Light could travel through space vibrating upon a single plane (the plane typically assumed to be non-rotating). I am having a difficult time finding research on the properties of Sunlight in outerspace, but it is my current belief that polarized Sunlight does not exist until Sunlight interacts with matter. Certain configurations of matter will reflect or refract Sunlight in very specific and uniform patterns. Some angles of arriving photons may be absorbed by matter or simply pass through it; at the same time, photons which arrive at certain angles will be reflected/refracted. If the departing Light is along parallel planes, then the Light is said to be polarized. Thus, in my way of thinking of least, Light polarization is more a property of matter than Sunlight.
ALTERNATE, NON-WAVE HYPOTHESIS OF LIGHT
Taking all this into account, I offer the hypothesis that Sunlight is composed, not of physical waves, but of emitted photons, and that these streams or rays of jettisoned photons are generated by luminous matter undergoing periodic reactions. It is possible that each point-source issues photons at a regular frequency for a period of time, or that a point-source could issue photons a changing discharge-frequency during the life-span of the point-source– either gradually slowing or speeding up, or perhaps oscillating through varying speeds of photon-emission. It also plausible that each point-source at the Sun emits only a single photon of Light, and that what arrives on Earth is a barrage of photons with no particular pattern of arrival (frequency) with order only being imposed upon this barrage by mind and matter on the receiving end.